DR Congo NGO ends boycott of UAE's Kimberley Process chairmanship

An African non-governmental organisation in the diamond industry has decided to end its boycott of the UAE’s chairmanship of the Kimberley Process (KP), the regulatory system that overseas trade in the precious stones.

The National Support Centre for Development and Popular Participation, known under its French acronym Cenadep, from the Democratic Republic of Congo, became the first member of the Civil Society Coalition (CSC) to break ranks with the boycott organised last year.

The coalition is one of the three “pillars” of the KP structure, along with producing governments and the diamond trading industry. It announced its boycott when the UAE was awarded the chairmanship of the KP in protest at what it alleged were abuses in Dubai’s diamond trading hub in the Dubai Multi Commodities Centre.

Last week, Ahmed bin Sula­yem, the KP chairman for 2016, called for CSC to end the boycott and attend the KP plenary session planned for Dubai next month, and for the KP to have a permanent apparatus under United Nations supervision.

Albert Kabuya Muyeba of Cenadep said: “Given the progress made in the implementation of issues raised by the CSC, and having obtained the opinion of the Congolese government on the participation of CSC in the Kimberley Process, Cenadep accepts the invitation of the KP chair at the plenary in November 2016 and believes that the best way to lend credibility to the KP process is by re-enlisting within the KP family to address different challenges inside, and not outside.”

The Congolese organisation is one of 11 that make up the CSC. Others are believed to be considering the offer from Mr bin Sulayem, although Partnership Africa Canada, the most vociferous critic of the UAE under its director of research Alan Martin, has said that the boycott remains in place.

Mr Muyeba added that his organisation “notes with great satisfaction the progress made since January 2016 compared to the main demands of the coalition”.

The KP under Mr bin Sulayem has also put forward proposals for the valuation of rough dia­monds, which has been one of the main grievances of the coalition. Mr Muyeba said: “Cenadep welcomes the progress of discussions around diamond valuation and the efforts made by the KP chair to particularly address the issue of synthetic diamonds and that of the internal control systems in member countries. Cenadep remains convinced about the complexity of the evaluation issue and congratulates the KP chair for putting it on the table in order to enable stakeholders to provide concrete proposals for moving forward. This is an initiative that we must support.”

Ola Bello, the executive director of one organisation that is attending the plenary, Good Governance Africa, said: “We are very pleased to see that in reflection of Africa’s tradition, the KP chair and some members of the CSC have decided to reconcile their differences and bring forward a positive agenda for change of the KP.

“The KP was instrumental in ending bloody wars on our continent. Under the KP chair’s leadership we hope to stride forward to further strengthen the sustainability of the diamond sector and to improve the livelihood of all those who work in it,” he added.

The KP was set up in 2003 at a meeting in Kimberley, South Africa, to stop the trade in conflict diamonds in the global gems trade and its financing of violent rebel movements.


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